E-Cigarettes Worry the FDA but Not Students


Woman taking a vape. Photo By: Pixabay


The Food and Drug Administration says the risks associated with tobacco products don’t go up in smoke when vapor is involved. Vape-addicted youth, including some Chapman students, disagree.


For the past month, sting operations run by the FDA exposed 40 JUUL retailers as selling tobacco vape products to minors. As a result of their discoveries, the FDA will be investigating JUUL Labs’ marketing strategies and overall appeal to youth. In a statement made Tuesday, FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb regarded the popularity of e-cigarettes among youth as a “troubling reality.”


In 2016, e-cigs were used by 6.9% of college students, according to the Monitoring the Future National Survey. While use dropped from 2015 to 2016, only two percent fewer college students vape than smoke cigarettes, according to the survey.  


Most students in California believe vaping is healthier than smoking cigarettes, a 2017 study finds.


The students that believe such have company on Chapman’s campus. They may find solace in the words of freshman screenwriting major Alie Watson, who dubs the health risks of e cigs “fairly minimal.”


She and others use their e-cigs in any setting, from group study sessions to the classroom. According to Watson, it’s easy to hide the aerosols and isn’t frowned upon by peers.


Dani Smith, director of health education at Chapman, says that though e-cigs do not have the tar and carcinogen elements cigarette smoking posesses, there are other dangerous chemicals produced through vaping.


Formaldehyde, a known carcinogen, is one byproduct of the vaping process. Glycerol and propylene glycol, two ingredients very common in the liquids vaporized by e-cigs, combine to form formaldehyde and formaldehyde-releasing agents when heated.   


As a result, the use of e-cigarettes could increase one’s risk of cancer by as much as 15 times when compared to standard cigarettes, according to one 2015 study.


A study published this year by the EHP revealed that e-cigarettes are a potential source of exposure to toxic metals. The lead, chromium, nickel, zinc and manganese leach from the heating coils of e-cigarettes into the vapor inhaled by smokers, the researchers explained.


JUULs use nichrome coils, according to their website, which researchers in the EPH study say create vapors containing chromium and nickel among other metals. The presence of these highly toxic metals is very concerning according to some physicians.


JUUL Labs responded to Prowl inquiry on the matter, though did not respond to the EPH’s findings.


These chemicals along with nicotine affect more than just the person inhaling them. The vapor from e-cigarettes can transfer nicotine from person-to-person thorough second-hand smoke, reports the CDC.


Formaldehyde is also present in the vaping aerosols, reports a study presented by the New England Journal of Medicine.


Vapes can go where cigarettes cannot, from libraries to lectures, effecting the air quality for all.


Julien Khvang

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